Detroit Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin is ‘the number one leader right now’ – Detroit Free Press
It was another close loss for the Red Wings, but there are reasons to be optimistic about the future. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press
CALGARY, Alberta — A week after he spoke in frustration of something needing to change, Dylan Larkin is doing what he can to make that happen.
The Detroit Red Wings have to shake off a disappointing result as they head into a game with the Vancouver Canucks, but parse the 6-4 final from Friday’s outing in Calgary and it bodes well for the team’s future. Their future captain scored twice among eight shots on net, reaching 20 goals with a third of the season to go.
“He’s going to be a superstar,” Calgary coach Bill Peters said. “We didn’t have an answer for him.”
The Wings didn’t have enough answers to push back as the Flames scored four times in the third period, but few teams have an answer for the Flames, who sit in second place in the NHL. The Wings lost the special teams battle, lost another close game — it was 5-4 when T. J. Brodie scored into an empty net — but Larkin was a key reason the Wings were competitive against an elite opponent.
“He was flying out there, skating a lot,” Anthony Mantha said. “Two big goals. I think he’s the number one leader right now in the room. He showed it when the team wasn’t doing good, he was on fire. I think he had a 12- or 13-game spread where he was always on the score sheet. He’s stepped up a lot and hopefully guys can follow him in the next couple games here.”
It was Larkin’s 10th multipoint game this season. He’s led the Wings in scoring from the start of the season, and has amassed 47 points in 49 games.
“He’s playing great,” Mike Green said. “He’s doing all the simple things — he’s got composure, he’s skating well, he’s moving the puck. He’s got a complete game. We rely heavily on him and he’s been great for us.”
Green is the only Wings skater who averages more ice time than Larkin, but not by much: Green tops the team at 21:58 minutes, Larkin is next at 21:49. More than anyone else on the team, he has filled the void created when Henrik Zetterberg retired before the season began.
“I play a lot of minutes and I appreciate that,” Larkin said. “I don’t take that for granted, so every time I’m out there, I try to do the right things for the team and battle my hardest. That’s what it comes down to for me, is getting in the game and effort. I can control those two things.”
It bears emphasizing Larkin is only 22. This is his first year as an alternate captain, and as the season has progressed, his voice has grown. A week ago, after a close loss at Winnipeg, Larkin said he was frustrated, that something had to change. He had three assists the next night in Minnesota in a 5-2 victory, and had an assist the next game in the 3-1 victory against Anaheim.
“I do feel in my fourth year that I have a voice in here,” Larkin said. “I’ve learned from some of the best.”
Larkin made the Wings in his first season of pro hockey in 2015, one year after the Wings drafted him 15th overall in 2014. He’s the top reason the rebuilding process is in good shape.
“The number one way to assert yourself as a leader is by your approach and your play,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He was excellent as the game went along. He’s just got to keep being a great 200-foot player, doing a great job defensively, making sure he’s leading the way that way. He’s done a good job having the puck on his stick. The best way for him to lead is through example.
“The number one thing is his inner drive is off the charts. He’s got the inner drive that the great players have. He wants to be great and he wants us to win. He’s self-accountable — there are times he gets frustrated, there are times he looks back and he knows he has to be better. So he is self-accountable and he’s got great inner drive. Those are great qualities to have as a leader.”
Contact Helene St. James: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.